This little known government agency is responsible for bringing the remains of missing or captured U.S. soldiers home to rest

Founded after the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command and the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office were folded into a single agency, the Defense P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Agency (D.P.A.A.) is an incredibly important part of the United States military. They're responsible for the locating and identification of the remains of soldiers who were deemed to be Missing in Action or who died as prisoners of war.

Sometimes, the task of identifying and repatriating remains can be conducted with immediacy. In other cases, the realities of war--that a body can be torn asunder, rendering it near unidentifiable--or discovering the remains of skeletal remains of a soldier decades after they died, can slow this process down. In such cases, forensic experts are brought in to assist in identifying the dead.

This past August, the North Korean government allowed the U.S. military to repatriate 55 coffins full of the mixed skeletal remains of American soldiers who died in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953. That nothing's left of these soldiers but bones would make identifying them difficult enough. When the bones are mixed in with one another? That's a puzzle that few people are qualified to deal with. Dr. Paul Emanovsky is one of those few. He's a forensic anthropologist that's worked to bring closure to the lives of the loved ones of missing military personnel since 2002. If you're interested in a fascinating, morbid read, the New York Times recently published an interview with Dr. Emanovsky, where he talks about his work and the recovery projects that the D.P.A.A. Read the rest

Canadian soldiers have been given their marijuana marching orders

With Canada's legalization of cannabis consumption quickly creeping up on the calendar, the nation's Armed Forces decided that it might be high time to figure out where and when those with access to small arms, artillery and combat aircraft should be allowed to take a toke.

From The CBC:

Soldiers will be banned from smoking or otherwise consuming the drug up to eight hours before reporting for duty.

The ban on usage will kick in 28 days before any deployment for personnel serving on submarines, planes or helicopters, or for those piloting drones, conducting high-altitude parachute drops or engaging in air traffic control.

"Traces of cannabis may remain in the human body for up to 28 days or more following consumption," the defense ministry said in a statement detailing the restrictions.

Any personnel due to handle weapons or explosives, participating in emergency services or driving military vehicles will be prohibited from consumption up to 24 hours before duty.

Oh, and if you're a civilian contractor or government employee working on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces? All of these rules are for you, too.

While the CBC keeps the explanation of what military personnel can and can't do with marijuana simple, the Canadian Forces have taken a lot of time and effort to spell out, in great detail, what's ok for their employees and leadership to do with dope. This webpage explains the Canadian military's policy on cannabis, including the rules on use, how often drug tests can be administered, what'll happen to Canadian Forces personnel if they're caught breaking the rules, and where and when individuals can be treated for addiction. Read the rest

U.S. Military bans GPS-enabled fitness trackers

We’ve known for a while that military personnel using GPS-enabled health tracking apps and accessories in sensitive operational areas was kind of a problem, from an intelligence standpoint. Such appliances make it wicked easy for someone to check in on the wearer’s daily routine, whereabouts or, should enough people in an operational area use the same service like Strava, figure out where personnel congregate at certain times of the day, no satellite surveillance or human intelligence assets required. Well, it looks like the Department of Defense has finally decided to do something about it: As of right now, DoD employees are no longer allowed to wear or use a wide variety of health tracking hardware.

From Gizmodo:

The ban was first announced in an August 3 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. It follows a months-long investigation into the use of location-tracking apps after the fitness app Strava published a global heat map that accidentally revealed the locations of several United States military bases. The Pentagon’s response also comes after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress calling for “enhanced assessments and guidance … to address security risks in DoD” posed by internet of things devices.

How the United States military will enforce this ban is anyone’s guess, at this point. According to Stars & Stripes, it’s not immediately clear what the punishment for accidentally tracking your run with your smartphone might be, or what consequences a solider might face for intentionally wearing their Fitbit into a war zone (what time was it and what was your heart rate when you were being shot at? Read the rest

Could Brazil become a military dictatorship once again?

Brazil escaped the clutches of a military dictatorship three decades ago. But fascism is really hot right now, so the nation may be about to get back on its bullshit once more.

From The New York Times:

Retired generals and other former officers with strong ties to the military leadership are mounting a sweeping election campaign, backing about 90 military veterans running for an array of posts — including the presidency — in national elections this October. The effort is necessary, they argue, to rescue the nation from an entrenched leadership that has mismanaged the economy, failed to curb soaring violence and brazenly stolen billions of dollars through corruption.

And if the ballot box does not bring change quickly enough, some prominent former generals warn that military leaders may feel compelled to step in and reboot the political system by force.

For those in Brazil old enough to have lived through the last time the country was run by a bunch of violent tools in matching slacks, it’s a worrisome notion. The last time that nation was ruled by its military, 434 people "disappeared" or were killed by Brazil’s military government, not to mention the scores tortured and abused during the dictatorship’s 21-year reign.

A lot of analysts believe that the possibility of the military taking over the Brazilian government again is remote. However, given the jump to right-wing politics, authoritarian rule, kleptocracy and dictatorships that countries like Nicaragua, Poland, Turkey, the United States and the Philippines have been wallowing in of late, anything is possible – especially in light of the nation's rising violent crime rates, a 13% unemployment rate, and a growing underground economy. Read the rest

U.S. Army war dogs deserve better than to be neglected or put down after their tour of duty is finished

A war hero who saved American lives under fire deserves the best care our government can muster. It's the very least they deserve for bravely serving overseas. Unfortunately, not all soldiers returning from active duty have been paid this respect. Nor have the canine soldiers in their ranks. Read the rest

US Army doxes itself, reveals $100 million NSA spy program that got flushed before it was ever used

Chris Vickery from Upguard found an Army Amazon Web Services instance with no password or encryption, containing 100GB of data on a defunct NSA program called Red Disk. Read the rest

Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, and Mel Blanc's US Army cartoon warning against loose lips (1943)

Private Snafu was the US Army's series of instructional cartoons from World War II, written and/or directed by the likes of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, Chuck Jones, and PD Eastman. The voice of Private Snafu is performed by Mel Blanc (Buggs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.). In this episode, written by Dr. Seuss and titled "Spies," Private Snafu learns a military secret but he can't seem to keep his lips sealed. Note the grossly racist depiction of an Asian man, sadly typical of the era.

Read the rest

Little green army men in yoga poses

Yoga Joes are a clever series of little green plastic army men in rather impressive yoga poses. Namaste, sergeant. Advanced Yoga Joes are available for pre-order in the following poses:

• Firefly • Advanced Side Plank

• Scorpion

• Peacock

• King Pigeon - Mermaid Arm Variation

• Lotus Headstand - Spherical Helmet Variation (Yes he really balances.)

(via Laughing Squid)

Read the rest

Chelsea Manning, after suicide attempt: 'Your incredible love and support is lifting my spirits.'

Imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning is suffering from severe mental health challenges in prison, directly related to her treatment in prison. She isn't getting the care she needs, and she recently tried to take her own life.

Chelsea is a transgender woman who, despite her gender identity being acknowledged by the world, is forced by the U.S. to serve out her sentence in an all-male maximum security prison. To be a woman imprisoned among men is a most gendered form of cruel and unusual punishment, but America's hatred and misunderstanding of trans people allows this to be the norm. Read the rest

How an Army buddy's call for help sent a scientist on a brain injury quest

The first in a series of NPR reports online and on-air about Traumatic Brain Injuries and the military is a must-listen. Read the rest

Army decides to stop putting soldiers' Social Security numbers on their dog tags

In a major policy change that sounds like a Very Good Idea, the U.S. Army announced today that dog tags will no longer include the Social Security numbers of the soldier wearing them. SSNs have been part of this identification system for over 40 years. Read the rest

Army says Petraeus shouldn't be punished under military law for leaking top-secret materials

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Army is recommending retired general David H. Petraeus not face further punishment for screwing his biographer and leaking top-secret materials to her. Read the rest

Taylor Swift's Duck Army

What wondrous times we live in.

[Previously] Read the rest

How you can contribute to whistleblower Chelsea Manning's legal defense fund

Chelsea Manning's extraordinary act of whistleblowing continues to enrich journalism, the public, and the historic record to this day. Chelsea is currently appealing her unjust conviction and 35-year jail sentence under the Espionage Act, but her legal team is deeply in debt. Freedom of the Press Foundation is helping to raise money for her appeal by offering a way for people to donate to her legal defense here.

Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court”

Huffington Post reporter Matt Sledge read my Boing Boing post earlier today about reports from the Bradley Manning trial of dramatically-increased security measures for press. Those measures including armed military police standing behind journalists at their laptops, snooping on their screens.

He reports that the new, oppressive security measures were ordered directly by the judge because reporters were violating court rules (which no one can find a copy of), and carrying "prohibited electronics." For this, the government needs armed military police standing right behind reporters as they type, in the media room. Read the rest

Journalists at Bradley Manning trial report hostile conditions for press

UPDATE: Bradley Manning trial judge increased press security "because of repeat violations of the rules of court.”

Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.

@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.

I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.

But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Read the rest

In final phase of Bradley Manning trial, a defense of Wikileaks

Charlie Savage at the New York Times covers proceedings in the court-martial of PFC Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade, on the day the defense rested its case. The final witness for the defense was Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, who authored this widely-cited paper on WikiLeaks. Benkler testified that the organization served a legitimate journalistic role when Manning leaked it some 700,000 or more secret government files. Read the rest

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